Competition drives Suriname’s mobile voice and broadband market

Background

Suriname is the smallest nation on the South American continent, with just over 500,000 inhabitants. It is the only Dutch-speaking nation in South America; as such, it has closer affinities with the Caribbean than with its continental neighbours. Despite various socio/political problems, the country’s medium-term economic outlook is favourable.

Exclusivity and competition

The incumbent telecom operator, Telesur, is 100% state-owned and is the exclusive provider of fixed-line and broadband services in Suriname. It faces competition, however, in the mobile market.

Teledensity and penetration of telecom services

Suriname’s fixed-line infrastructure is reasonable in the more populated coastal region, though poor in the interior. Fixed teledensity and broadband penetration are slightly lower than average for Latin America and the Caribbean, while mobile penetration is significantly above the regional average and much higher than would be expected given the country’s relatively low GDP per capita. Many Surinamese have up to three mobile lines with different providers, pushing penetration figures upward of 180%.

Mobile market

Suriname’s mobile sector is a dynamic, competitive industry with three companies vying for market share: Telesur, trading as TeleG; Digicel, which operates throughout the Caribbean; and Uniqa, owned by Intelsur and United Telecommunications Services (UTS).

Broadband market

Although other ISPs offer dial-up and webmail services, Telesur is the only provider of fixed broadband, primarily using ADSL technology. It competes with Uniqa, however, in the mobile broadband market.

Suriname’s fixed-line, broadband, and mobile statistics – 2010 – 2012

Sector

2010

2011

2012 (e)

Fixed-lines in service
Total subscribers

85,000

86,000

87,000

Broadband
Total subscribers

16,000

24,000

34,000

Mobile telephony subscribers
Total subscribers

890,000

947,000

994,000

(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU data)

Market highlights:

  • Telesur and Uniqa have rolled out 3G services – both operators offer mobile broadband and phone-based internet browsing over HSDPA-based UMTS networks.
  • Smartphones are becoming increasingly popular in Suriname, particularly Blackberrys. Sales of prepaid Blackberrys soared in 2011/2012.
  • Although boosted by the Suriname-Guyana Submarine Cable System (SG-SCS), bandwidth capacity is still insufficient, and broadband download speeds are the second lowest in South America.

BuddeComm’s yearly update of Suriname – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications market of Suriname, including industry and operator data up to the end of 2011 and estimates for 2012.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

Suriname – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

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